3 Apply To Create New Charter Schools

Melissa Bailey PhotoA parent-driven proposal for a new Montessori school entered the mix, as three local groups applied to the state to open new charter schools in New Haven.

The state received seven applications by an April 1 deadline, including three from New Haven, from groups aiming to open new charter schools in 2013 or 2014, state Department of Education spokeswoman Kelly Donnelly announced last week. The proposals came in response to an RFP issued by the state.

Two of the four groups that initially showed interest in opening charters in New Haven followed through with the application this year, according to Donnelly: One is a math and science high school led by Ismail Agirman, a senior engineer at Otis Elevators. Another is an proposal spearheaded by Varick Memorial AME Zion Church pastor Eldren D. Morrison to open a pre-K to 4 school in Newhallville. Those two proposals would be traditional state-sanctioned charters, public schools that operate under independent charters, outside of the governance of traditional school districts.

The state this year also accepted ideas for new “local charter” schools that would fall under the supervision of a local school board.

New Haven got one proposal for a local charter. The idea came from a group of moms who liked the Montessori model. The moms assembled a board, including Dave Low, a vice-president of the teachers union, and John Freeman, principal of the Annie Fisher Montessori Magnet in Hartford, which the school would be modeled after. The group proposes opening the Elm City Montessori School this fall with 69 kids aged 3 to 5; then expand it over five years to serve 209 kids up to grade 4. The school would be New Haven’s first public Montessori school, according to co-founder and parent leader Eliza Halsey.

Because the proposal is a local charter, the New Haven school board now has 60 days to review the applications, hold a public hearing, “survey teachers and parents to determine if there is sufficient interest in the establishment of a local charter school,” and take a vote. If the school board approves, the proposal will be passed along to the state Department of Education.

State education chief Stefan Pryor will score all applications and make recommendations to the state Board of Education, according to Donnelly. The state has been slow to create more charters in recent years: No new charter school has been approved since 2007, Donnelly said. Connecticut has 17 charter schools.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposed budget includes funding for nine new charter schools over the next two years. However, the budget still needs approval from the state legislature, which has been eying cuts to various aspects of the state’s education reforms, especially to programs that represent new spending.

Pryor said Thursday that the legislature has has made “no revision as of yet” to funding for new charter schools. “That discussion is yet to come.”

Bill Phillips, president of the Northeast Charter Schools Network, urged the state to create more good charter schools. He said there are 4,000 kids on waiting lists for charter schools statewide, enough to fill “almost double” the number of charter schools that currently exist.

Opponents argue charter schools draw students with proactive parents out of regular school districts, and push difficult kids back to traditional schools, creating a two-tiered education system that hurts public school districts. After years of fighting with local charter schools, Mayor John DeStefano has embraced them; he has expressed support for the Montessori charter at public school board meetings.

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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 8, 2013  6:13pm

Again Snake-Oil being sold.Here’s youris what Charter School do.Pay teachers less, pay administration more. No over-site, dismal performance, higher costs to the community. Screw the kids, there’s a buck to be made. A study by David Stuit and Thomas Smith of Vanderbilt shows that teachers at charter schools were almost twice as likely to quit their jobs as teachers at public schools.Part of the reason for the turnover is that charter teachers are younger and less likely to have a degree in education than teachers in public schools. But surveys have also found that teachers in charters are burdened by overwork (60-hour workweeks are not uncommon), insufficient instructional resources, and low salaries. Since it’s clear that teachers improve with experience, having a staff of recent grads with an eye on the exit isn’t consistent with long-term excellence. Also there is no unions.Last there is no proof that Charter Schools outperform public schools.

My bad.Forgot How Charter Schools Exclude the Kids They Don’t Want.


posted by: Brutus2011 on April 8, 2013  8:57pm

Much of what our favorite fraction writes is true.

One must remember how the charter school movement took root. This is before the private equity folks got involved.

Charter schools only can exist in less advantaged communities. For proof, see how many charter schools are in Darien, Madison or West Hartford. Contrast that with the number of charter schools in Bridgeport, New Haven, and Hartford. SES or socio-economic status in living color. Students in lower income communities typically have higher stress levels and display more “acting out” or disruptive behavior than their peers in high income communities. But we all know that right? We may know it but we forget it whenever we start thinking or talking about education reform.

Charter schools exist because the parents in low SES communities want a better life for their kids—we all do. What they know is that the schools are out of control with disruptive students and they cannot count on the public schools to change so they are looking for a way out. Here comes Dacia Toll, Jeff Klaus, Stephen Pryor and Achievement First to the rescue. AF institutes strict behavior controls because the parents are not going to sue them for reigning in little Johnny or little Suzie as should be. And if a kid doesn’t measure up, he gets the boot back to NHPS.

So where did this all begin?

The urban district public school administrators who could not, or would not, do their jobs. But they made/make comfortable 6 figure salaries and retire with 6 figure pensions for a job not well-done. And of course they are fond of saying how they gave their lives to public education.

But hey, what do I know?